Free Online Meeting Option (Jitsi) with Integrated Speech Timer

Those Toastmasters clubs who want to meet online but don’t want to pay for a Zoom account have another option, the Jitsi open source software offered as a free service by the online telecom company 8×8. Jitsi works best with the Google Chrome browser or the latest version of Microsoft Edge. Because it is web-based, we can use embed it in a web page that includes an online timer app. Using the online timer means the speaker doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of the thumbnail image of the timer because the page background changes color to function as the “timing lights.”

For instructions on using the same timer tool with Zoom, see this post.

You can use this demo without a password to see the timer’s experience with Jitsi.

It’s also possible to embed the web-based version of Zoom within this frame, but so far I haven’t gotten that working as well. The Zoom web client also has some limitations, which lead me to think it may be better to use the approach I’ve described for using the regular Zoom client in conjunction with this feature (which involves some resizing of windows).

Jitsi does not include all the same features as Zoom, but I found a few (like how it handled muting of people other than the main speaker) that I liked better. Certainly worth experimenting with, particularly for clubs with constrained budgets. You will see an ad for 8×8 every time you end a meeting, but that’s a small price to pay. I don’t think a Toastmasters club would need to pay for the upgrades they offer, although you might consider 8×8 for business use.